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March 27, 2013

Tips and Tricks for Numbered Lists in Word

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Word’s automatic line numbering feature fills you with glee or drives you to despair. Either way, the feature is more clever than you think, especially when you know some tips and tricks.

The Numbering tool dwells on the Home tab, in the Paragraph group. You click that button to apply line numbers to existing, selected text, or to any new text you type. Clicking the button’s menu thingy displays a drop-down list of styles, shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The Numbering Tool palette.

Figure 1. The Numbering Tool palette.

Change styles by choosing a new style form the palette or choose the Define New Number Format item to make up your own. Simple stuff.

To turn off numbering, click the button again.

If automatic numbering bugs you, press the Backspace key when it happens to temporarily disable it. You can refer to my Word For Dummies book for information on permanently disabling that feature.

So all is well and good, right?


What happens if you want to stop numbering and can’t?

Well, you could press the Enter key twice to turn off Numbering. Or you can unveil the secret shortcut menu for the Numbering command, shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The Numbering shortcut menu.

Figure 2. The Numbering shortcut menu.

To summon the Numbering shortcut menu, right-click on any numbered list. The list must have more than one item so that you can see all the commands. Here’s what’s up:

Adjust List Indents. This command summons a mini paragraph formatting dialog box. You can adjust all the indent positions for the entire list. It’s a far better option to choose for adjusting a numbered list than messing with the Paragraph dialog box.

Restart at 1. Right-click on a specific item in the list, then choose this command from the shortcut menu. The remaining items in the list are automatically renumbered starting at 1. This command is a great way to split lists up on a page without having Word being all dictatorial with you about how the numbers are supposed to go.

Continue Numbering. You’ll love this command, especially when your numbered list has breaks where paragraphs exist between the numbers.

For example, say you start a numbered list, then break to write a few paragraphs or stick a graphic in your text. To continue numbering, start up a new numbered list and then right-click. Choose the Continue Numbering command and Word automatically picks up where it left off. Very nice.

Of course, the advantage to the Continue Numbering command is that you can edit the list, even remove items, and Word automatically renumbers things for you. That’s how computers are supposed to work.

Set Numbering Value. This command offers you ultimate control over the numbers in a list, thanks to the Set Numbering Value dialog box that appears, shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. The Ultimate Numbering Control dialog box.

Figure 3. The Ultimate Numbering Control dialog box.

Use the dialog box (Figure 3) to start over at 1, set the starting over value, continue numbering, and all sorts of madness. It’s really the kind of control you would want to have, which sadly many people don’t realize is there.

Well now you do!

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